Thursday, June 30, 2011

A Missing Puzzle Piece - Homeless Pt. 8

From 2001-2005 I had blindly trusted my good God with a good plan. I wasn't, however, all Mother Theresa about it. As the days ground on and the life that we had depended on to define us slipped away, I wrestled with God. Let me tell you, I could give any WWE star a run for his money. Many a time on the 6 mile ride thru the country to the grocery store, I screamed at God. I am sure dozens of cows no longer give milk given how many I must have traumatized with my desperate entreaties.

Courtesy Mad Penguin Creations
On one particularly bitter day, I reflected on how God had 'told' me the house was already gone, and there was nothing I could do to stop it. The question was not if we would lose it..only how long it would take. Well, there had been another part to that encounter. My soul resonated with this message: “What is coming will hurt. Let me do what I must do. There is a work I have to do in Jeff's life. When I have finished, what I am allowing will all make sense. Until then, be still. Be still.”

I jammed down on the accelerator hoping no public safety vehicle was in a 3 county radius. The screams would have made those of natural childbirth seem like a Top 40 tune. 

“WHAT ARE YOU DOING? I can understand working in Jeff's life. But, if you have something HUGE to do, why do the children have to suffer to get the job done? You are GOD! Do you have to slaughter their lives in the process of doing what you are doing? WHY!” And, I went on from there. It was not pretty. Mother Theresa would not have been impressed.
Courtesy Mad Penguin Creations

So, in the spring of our new, post-Chapter 13 life, I still wrestled with my good God and his good plan.I spent the next few days after that 2nd counseling encounter as I had spent so many in the years before-numbly doing the next thing. On one level, it was such a relief to be normal again that I was happy as the proverbial clan. On a deeper level, I was always mentally moving puzzle pieces around on the game board of life. I could have solved a Rubik's cube more easily. I don't even try those anymore! I inwardly grieved the end of the dreams I had dreamed for 17 long years and let hope slip away. I steeled myself to accept the next 9 yrs of indentured labor. Hey, I'd done 17 yrs! I was 2/3 the way thru my term! I could make life pleasant now that we had one again. I'd take the perks and mitigate the rest.

I thought a lot about the Old Testament story of Jacob who worked 7yrs to marry Rachel and was deceived into marrying her older sister Leah (Genesis 29) first. We can get all philosophical here about modern day women's issues or literal vs figurative Biblical stances. Punt that for now. There is another blog out there for that purpose, I'm sure. For now, hear me: I identified a lot with Leah, the burdensome one. She always knew she was the joy-stealer. Can you imagine how often she felt alone and unloved?

Jeff came to me a few days after that 2nd counseling session. He was pale and on the verge of clammy. “I just sent a note to the counselor. Here's your copy. You think you know me. You don't know me. I'm a monster. After you read these pages, if you want me to, I'll pack and go. You don't have to deal with me anymore....” He poked a few sheets of paper toward me.

Courtesy Mad Penguin Creations
I looked at him dazed and confused wondering what new tsunami was bearing down on me. “Dear Lord God in Heaven! Have I not done enough? Been thru enough?” What made the offering even more perplexing was my business partner's loathe of writing. One upbeat year, he had come to me and announced that he was going to do a Christmas letter to go with our cards. Five nights later, he came to me dejected and drained. “I give up. You do it. I just can't write stuff like this.” He had managed to eek out 5 dismal lines. So, to be handed 3 sheets of single spaced text.....ominous.

We went in the bedroom and closed the door. I stood reading. He sat on the edge of the bed waiting on my verdict. In the 1st 2 paragraphs, I knew part of the answer to what God had prepared me for 5 yrs earlier. In a land long ago and far away, I had worked at a psych hospital...yes WORKED! My patients were 5-12 YO boys whose behavior was so troubled that their school districts had helped facilitate their inpatient admissions. Over the years that I had come to know my husband's childhood history, I had come to observe his life from a clinical distance. I had often thumbed the pages of his 'chart' while rearranging those puzzle pieces that never fit. I kept wondering why, with all the things he told me, one last detail seemed to be missing. One final insult that had forever changed who he was. With all the other things he told me, it seemed a sure bet he would have trusted me with this detail. When it never surfaced, I breathed a sigh of relief, “Thank you, God. At least you spared him this one last indignity.” And then, I thanked God that he had grown up to be a responsible, productive human being who was a loving father and good provider. He should have been in jail, on drugs, or dead.

Courtesy Mad Penguin Creations
The long searched for puzzle piece fell out of those single-spaced pages and onto the table of my life. My knees crumpled, and I hit the floor near his feet. I looked up with tears streaming down my face. I sobbed. “You are not a monster. You are a hero. Something monstrous happened to you. But someone else's sin does not make you a monster. You are a hero because you have survived and overcome. This all makes sense. Every miserable detail of our bone crunching-ly difficult marriage makes sense. You are forgiven. You are forgiven. You have NO DEBT in my heart. All these years, I kept adding up all the details wondering where this one was hiding. I had hoped with all my heart you had been spared. It all makes sense. And, if I had not worked at the hospital, I might never have been prepared to understand this information. But, I get it. I get it. You are forgiven. When is your next counseling session?”

And, over the next 3 hours, I watched the man I had known for 18 years change before my eyes. Decades, maybe centuries, of grief that had edged his face disappeared. I felt as if I was watching a mummy unwrap before my eyes. He grew younger and younger as relief washed over him. His always dull, dead eyes began to flicker with life.

Suddenly it hit me. “But, I don't understand. This is counselor #10. Why did this information not POUR out of your mouth with #1? How could you hold this burden in since you were a little boy?”

Courtesy Mad Penguin Creations
He answered softly, and his answer made sense. Then, he stunned me. “If we had not been homeless...if we had not lived where we lived, I'm not sure the truth would have ever come out. Watching you day in and day out cope with what you coped with...having you observe dynamics during those days and label them for me as what they were....I could never have had the courage to speak out until you gave me a voice.”

God tapped me on the shoulder,. His voice thundered into my heart thru memories of those tortured drives down cow pasture lined roads. “You took all these days in this horrible valley of life to bring Jeff to the point of truth telling. The truth has set you both free. I kept my word.” 

Phillipians 1:6 (Bible in Basic English)
"For I am certain of this very thing, that he by whom the good work was started in you will make it complete till the day of Jesus Christ."


  1. Wow.

    Some publisher needs to snatch you up now!

  2. This comment has been removed by the author.

  3. Wow! How powerful. I have tears running down my face.

  4. No sweeter words could a writer hear than that his/her words had the power to evoke such a powerful reaction in a reader. May the Lord himself bless every word, every reaction, and every impact.